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Penguins Report: Game Day at NY Rangers

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
Game day final thoughts…

  • Arron Asham doubtful to play, and Comrie needs two weeks of rehab (12:49 PM).
  • Pens’ lines, Godard in for Asham (11:24 AM).
  • Bylsma on the Rangers, the PK and getting Malkin going (1:34 PM).
  • Crosby named NHL “Three Star” for the week (1:37 PM).
  • Words of wisdom from Crosby, Letang and Fleury (1:04 PM).
  • Guerin and Richter in the house (11:43 AM).
  • Madison Square Garden tour (3:32 PM).
  • Pens pics (12:00 PM).
  • “I can trip a referee, tell by my attitude that I am most definitely from...” (10:22 AM).

3:32 PM:

1:37 PM:
Crosby was named as one of the NHL's "Three Stars" of the week. Crosby was also named a star last week. Mabye he'll get a turkey (bowling reference) next week with another star.

1:34 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma...

On getting Letang out with Crosby:
It’s happened a lot that way this year, because Sid has ended up against other team’s top lines a lot. So Brooks Orpik and Kris Letang have been out there to match up against other teams’ D pairing, and Sid and his line have gone out there against other teams’ top lines. So it’s happened a lot, it’s nothing that we’re saying that we want to get the two out together.

On if it’s good for Crosby to play with someone like Letang:
There have been times when the shutdown pair was not as gifted in their puckmoving skills and their passing ability as Kris, and that has maybe led to frustrations sometimes for our skilled players, not getting the puck. Having a guy like Kris, who is a shutdown guy and is playing against their top lines with his ability to pass the puck—our second goal was a great example of that last game, he goes and makes a physical play in the corner in the D zone, turns around and snaps the puck up and they go on a rush and it turns into a goal for us. That kind of ability is something that I think gives our offensive players an opportunity to make plays as well.

On the difference between playing the Rangers at home and away:
I don’t feel that there’s been a cut-and-dry difference. It’s always been an interesting place to play coming in as a team, a player, a coach. There’s a bit of a home-rink advantage coming in here. You feel it with the fans, you feel it with the team, but I don’t feel a difference in the way they play. They’ve been a team where their goaltenders have always been a factor in the game and are always going to be, as it was last game in our building. It was a factor in the game (Nov. 15) and we had to fight tooth and nail to get goals on (Lundqvist), and I feel that’s going to be the case again tonight.

On the strength of the penalty kill:
I don’t think I recall, as a player, being a part of what the guys have going on the ice. The confidence going over the boards, we saw it early on in the year in the few games we had. Now our players are (again) jumping over the board with confidence. It’s not to say we’re perfect, we’ve given up chances and our goaltenders made some big saves. But I think the guys have a real good understanding going into each game and each team of how we’re going to kill, and how we’re going to try to have success and how we can be aggressive. Really, our clears and our first eight seconds have been outstanding. You can see that confidence in our players, they’re being aggressive and getting clears, which is frustrating the other team and minimizing that end zone time which is dangerous no matter what team you give that to. Our guys are a real confident bunch right now.

On getting Malkin on track:
I think we all would like to see Geno put up bigger numbers, and have the type of season that he had two seasons ago. But I see him doing a lot of things better in his game this year than last year. His consistency at which he works on the defensive side of the puck is much better. I think he’s a guy we count on in the defensive zone to play against the other team’s good players. Right now as a center, it’s the one area I think he can improve on (and he’s making strides), when he gets the puck and tries to make an offensive play versus a smart play. There’s a lot of good in his game and he’s just gotta keep getting better and more focused on attacking the net and shooting the puck and playing in those areas, because he’s a dominant player when he does. He’s got a lot of those opportunities, but there’s still another level he can get to in that area of his game. But there’s a lot he is adding to our team in terms of having our team play well, and I think sometimes that’s overshadowed.

On his team-leading 109 shots being a measure of his game:
There’s two areas of the game we keep talking about to Geno: attacking the net and shooting the puck. I think in his best games, you see him track back and strip people of pucks in the neutral zone and in the offensive zone. When there’s a turnover, he’s a hound on the puck and he tracks it, and then you see him turn back and attack with speed. He’s a dangerous player when he has that mentality. So those are areas we keep tracking and talking about and highlighting, but shots is a big one for me. When you see him attacking the net and getting shots off, he’s a dangerous player when he’s playing well.

1:04 PM:
Sounds heard around the locker room…

Sidney Crosby

On keeping the streak going:

It’s not going to be easy. (The Rangers) are playing some good hockey. They’re always tough here at home. It will be a good challenge, but we certainly want to keep things going.

On the last loss to the Rangers
If anything you realize that you have to play a full game and there’s no guarantees even when you do play well. We realized that more than ever in that game. We have to make sure we keep things going here. We’ve played some good hockey. There are times that we’ve let up a bit. We have to make sure we stay on track.

On the defense:
From (Fleury) and (Johnson) to the penalty kill, that’s a big part of it. You have to keep the puck out of your net and we’re doing a good job of it and giving ourselves a chance to score goals and not getting caught playing catch-up all the time.

Marc-Andre Fleury

On keeping his streak going:
I’m looking forward to play some hockey. We have a challenge against a good team tonight. It should be interesting.

On the break hurting momentum:
It’s not my decision. It’s the coaches. Whatever they want me to do, I’ll do. (Brent Johnson) played great last game and got a win. That’s what matters.

On why the team is playing so well:
I think we’re playing how we want and in the system that coach wants us to. Guys have been playing hard, helping me out a lot: blocking shots and getting back in the zone. All together as a team, it’s been going good.

Kris Letang

On Crosby’s recent scoring streak:
He’s a great leader. He’s a guy that we look at that always wants to be better in practice. We want to follow him. He’s a great example on the ice and off the ice. He’s just playing really well.

On the Winter Classic:
I don’t pay attention to it. They’re planning the whole thing. It’s an exciting part of the season for us.

12:49 PM:
Head coach Dan Bylsma gave udates on Asham's absence from practice and Comrie's lower-body injury:

"(Asham) wasn't feeling well this morning so he stayed at the hotel. It's possible (he could play), but looks unlikely."

"(Comrie) is rehabbing right now. We don't have a definite on his situation on the trip. He's got a week or so of rehab to do."

12:00 PM:
A few photos from today's morning skate at Madison Square Garden



11:43 AM:
Former Penguin forward Bill Guerin and former Ranger goaltender Mike Richter have been spotted watching the Pens practice together. Two legendary American-born players!

11:24 AM:
Here are the lines the Pens are using at Madison Square Garden:


Arron Asham is not on the ice (nor Mike Comrie). We'll get an update on his status from coach Bylsma after practice.

10:22 AM:

We are at historic Madison Square Garden. The Penguins will have an 11 a.m. morning skate today and the guys are getting ready now.

In the spirit of our first trip to the Big Apple, let's start the day in an "Empire State of Mind," by Jay-Z.

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